Don’t mourn for the summer; embrace the winter. Those shorter days and darker evenings are your opportunity to spend quality time with the family -- especially with lockdowns and restrictions limiting our outdoor life.
The Danish concept of hygge (pronounced ‘heurgha’ or ‘hoo-ga’) has found wider popularity in recent years. The word, whose nearest English equivalent is “cosy”, describes a feeling of warmth, calmness and togetherness while all outside is dark and cold. Here, then, are the best ways to experience hygge as a family during the winter months.
Make A Cosy Space
To get into the spirit of hygge, you need to find somewhere warm and comfortable to cosy up. A sofa will do nicely, but how about making a special den of snuggles? Try these ideas for building an indoor fort (including a sofa fort!), or a torch-lit reading den. You might even attempt an indoor camping expedition. If that all seems too much like hard work, simply adorn your living room with more blankets and cushions to make things snug.
Snuggle Up For A Film
Most families now have access to on-demand TV, which makes it a doddle to plan a movie evening. The main problem is narrowing things down. These lists should help. Try the must-watch films for under-12s, the best Studio Ghibli films for kids, or the best Netflix films for kids by age. Teens might appreciate the 21 best coming of age movies, while everyone can get behind the 10 best Pixar films of all time. Just pick something that’s not too frenetic.
It’s tempting enough to stay in the PJs all day, or keep the baby in sleepsuits, and that’s all perfectly fine and hygge. But to take the snuggliness to the next level, check out these unicorn onesies and toastie slippers for bonus warmth.
Get The Lighting Right
Changing the lighting can have a big effect on mood and atmosphere. Use a dimmer switch, or a single table lamp to put the room into low light and everyone gets more relaxed. Candles and tealights are an even better alternative, though take the obvious precautions if you have small children.
Play A Board Game
Before iPads, Netflix and smartphones, families would settle down of a winter evening to play a board game. It’s still one of the best ways to share quality family time without leaving the dining table. A good starting point is to check whether you’ve played all 15 of the “top board games of all time”. But we’ve also got a roundup of lesser-known games for all age groups. If you’re bored of the same old boards, then why not have a go at making your own? Finally, crack open the ultimate family favourite -- Monopoly -- and see how many of these cliches somebody comes out with.
Is there anything cosier than a warming hot chocolate? It’s easy to get things wrong, though. Most of the instant ‘just add water’ brands are a little bitter and disappointing. For a sweeter cup, go to the extra effort of heating some milk (or dairy-free substitute of your choice), and add a dash of vanilla essence for more flavour. If you don’t have hot chocolate powder in, you can make a decent cuppa using cocoa powder, sugar (or syrup) and milk.
Personally, I’d avoid adding marshmallows, foam cream and other adornments -- it just makes things messy and fussy, when we’re after something calm and relaxing (though kids might disagree). Most importantly, serve the drink in a mug with a wider rim than standard size; you get a stronger aroma and a bigger bowl to hug.
Get The Oven Going
An afternoon baking usually gives everyone a rosy glow, with delicious food to eat afterwards. In the spirit of hygge, take the opportunity to indulge in comfort foods. Browse through our list of dozens of novelty cake ideas, try these recipes for flour-free baking, or try these kid-friendly classics (mmm, chocolate concrete). Our food and drink section contains much more inspiration.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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